Kansas City’s Automotive Alley: What is it? By Ora Reynolds, President, Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development
Ford Motor Company’s $1.1 billion investment to retool its Kansas City Assembly Plant to produce the new Transit van has proven to be a draw for businesses to nearby “Automotive Alley.” This begs the question: Just what is Automotive Alley?
Automotive Alley is just two miles from Ford’s Kansas City plant in Claycomo, Mo., where the Ford F-150 is produced and where the Ford Transit will begin rolling off the lines in early 2014. It’s a unique combination of above- and below-ground real estate linked by truck-friendly roads that enable vehicles to be easily organized and transported between the two.
Part of Automotive Alley is located 100 feet below ground in Hunt Midwest’s SubTropolis where automotive tenants lease 360,000 square feet. SubTropolis is a subterranean fortress made from limestone that is six times stronger than concrete with 5 million square feet of leased space and room to build another 8 million square feet. SubTropolis also has a constant ambient temperature and low humidity, eliminating the need for heating or cooling.
Tenants save up to 70 percent in total energy costs and benefit from an ideal environment for customizing vehicles. Just ask Robbie Harris, general manager for Knapheide Manufacturing Company, which has three operations in Automotive Alley – two on the surface and another underground, in SubTropolis:
“At first we weren’t sure about how our employees would react to an underground location,” Harris said. “But now they prefer to work there because SubTropolis is so comfortable – even in the blistering summer heat or frigid winter cold.”
Upfitters have located in SubTropolis for years because of the underground’s affordability, constant temperatures and close proximity to both the Ford Claycomo and the GM Fairfax plants. As far back as the 1960s, Ford has stored vehicles in SubTropolis for protection before shipping them to dealerships across the country.
Directly above the underground space, Automotive Alley also encompasses part of Hunt Midwest Business Center (HMBC), a surface business park that stretches across 1,800 acres. Automotive users currently occupy 100+ acres in HMBC – including Ford’s North American Vehicle Logistics Outbound Shipping (NAVLOS) facility, which is attracting more Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers and Ship-Thru vendors to the area.
Transit vans will be staged in the 1,800 parking spaces within the NAVLOS facility before being shipped to the upfitters – several of which are located in Automotive Alley – to be modified for specialized uses such as ambulances, shuttles, utility/contractor vehicles or handicapped vehicles.
The number of automotive-focused companies located in Automotive Alley is growing and more are on the way. In our next post, we’ll tell you about these companies – what they do and why they set up shop in Automotive Alley.
In the meantime, let us know if you want more information: SubTropolis@HuntMidwest.com.
HuntMidwest.com | SubTropolis.com
Automotive Alley, SubTropolis and HMBC are owned and operated by Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development, which has developed over 6,200 acres of commercial, retail, industrial and residential property. Hunt Midwest is owned by the Lamar Hunt family. The Hunt family business includes a diverse portfolio of entities involved in real estate, sports/media, energy/resources, private equity, and investments. In addition to Hunt Midwest, marquee entities include the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bulls, United Center, Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas Soccer Club.